Ted Hughes – ‘Hawk Roosting’

(No.63 of my favourite short poems)

Ted Hughes, born in Yorkshire in 1930, was Poet Laureate in the last years of the 20th Century, from 1984 until he died in 1998 at the age of 68.   His tempestuous marriage to the American poet, Sylvia Plath, lasted only six years.   Hughes explored this difficult relationship in his last major published work, ‘Birthday Letters’.

As much of his work demonstrates, Hughes was intensely interested in and affected by the natural world.  In ‘Hawk Roosting’, one of his early published poems, he conveys the commanding presence of the hawk looking down on the world, his world, from a place of eminence.  He considers himself as monarch of all he surveys, conveyed so powerfully by Hughes in this poem.

The Hawk

‘The Hawk’ … WHB – Pen & Wash,  2017

Hawk Roosting

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.

The convenience of the high trees!
The air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth’s face upward for my inspection.

My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot

Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly –
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads –
The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:

The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

 

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Roger McGough – ‘Poem for a dead poet’

(No.63 of my favourite short poems)

I have published one of Roger McGough’s poem previously in this series.  You will find it by clicking on this link:   ‘Vinegar’ . . .   Below is another of his poems which I very much enjoy, this time a short elegy for an unnamed poet.  Written in a simplistic style, the poem nevertheless, with both wit and precision, goes straight to the heart of what a poet does and what s/he seeks to be.

Poets Corner

‘Poem for a dead poet’

He was a poet he was.

A proper poet.

He said things

that made you think

and said them nicely.

He saw things

that you or I

could never see

and saw them clearly.

He had a way

with language.

Images flocked around

him like birds.

St. Francis, he was,

of the words. Words?

Why he could almost make ‘em talk.

 

Roger McGough

 

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VAN GOGH by Mervyn Peake

(No.55 of my favourite short poems)
Mervyn Peake-Self Portrait

Mervyn Peake (1911 – 1968) … Self-Portrait

VAN GOGH   . . .  by Mervyn Peake

Dead, the Dutch Icarus who plundered France
And left her fields the richer for our eyes.
Where writhes the cypress under burning skies,
Or where proud cornfields broke at his advance,
Now burns a beauty fiercer than the dance
Of primal blood that stamps at throat and thighs.
Pirate of sunlight! and the laden prize
Of coloured earth and fruit in summer trance
Where is your fever now? and your desire?
Withered beneath a sunflower’s mockery,
A suicide you sleep with all forgotten.
And yet your voice has more than words for me
And shall cry on when I am dead and rotten
From quenchless canvases of twisted fire

Van Gogh-Wheatfield With Cypresses

Wheat Field With Cypresses, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

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BUKOWSKI … a Crazy Life

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Van Inscription:  BUKOWSKI – some people never go crazy – what truly horrible lives they must lead’   ©

Henry Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994), was a German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer.  His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.  His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. (Wikipedia)

Bukowski has become something of a cult hero.  For some, his life-style, his aphorisms, the spirit imaged in his poetry, have become a way of life.  An image of one such itinerant was caught on camera by a Canadian friend on the Pacific coast of British Columbia.  This photograph occasioned my verse below . . .

BUKOWSKI

my life I confess
in my poetry
it is the vagrant life
tale of a loafer
lowlife laureate
being a bummer
suited me
no carbon copy
king of the underground
pulp-fiction hero
I made the running
took to my heels and
ran with the wind
lusted after life
stopped on a whim
ate when the food was there
or I stood still
and hungered
took my fill of loving
the casual way
I didn’t try
kept a wandering eye
the man who got lucky
lay in wait for inspiration
caught a glimpse of Paradise
nurtured that bluebird in my heart
laughed and scorned
smoked the weed that thrills
loved the life that kills
lived it
versified it
crucified it
until it crucified me.

Find What You Love

Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

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The ‘Bukowski’ van parked on the seafront on Vancouver Island, B.C.   Photographs of the van are by courtesy of Canadian artist, Alma Kerr. ©

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‘i carry your heart with me’ -E.E.Cummings

(Poem No.46 of my favourite short poems)

E.E. Cummings ( or ‘e e cummings’) (1894-1962) was an experimental American poet with a distinctive style, but nevertheless very accessible.  I previously blogged his poem … maggie and millie and mollie and may
Cummings’ poetry often deals with themes of love and nature, as in the following lovely poem . . .

heart

i carry  your heart with me

 

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                  i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

BY  E.E.Cummings

 

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The Birth Of A Poem

[ Prompted by Davy D’s recent question on the GoDogGo Cafe website, entitled . . .    ‘Are You A Poet?’  ]

 

Poetry Breathe Life

THE BIRTH OF A POEM

 

Generated from the furnace
Of a fervent mind
A poem defines itself
As a jewel
Precisely cut
Precious and lustrous
Poised above a ring of gold
Encircling thoughts
And reflecting
In its faceted faces
Feelings and emotions
Otherwise ill-expressed

The poet
The visionary
Frames the template
Bringing life to contemplation
Substance to inspiration
A peasant in the fields of the imagination
Cultivating conceits
Ideas and concepts
Labouring at the word-face
Crafting thoughts into expressed truths
Weaving feelings into reasoned words
Bringing all to fruition in
The gemstone of creativity

 

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Brian Patten – Mary’s Lamb

(Poem No.44 of my favourite short poems)

Brian Patten made his name in the 1960s as one of the Liverpool Poets, alongside Adrian Henri and Roger McGough.  He has written over fifty poetry books for both Adults and children.   Patten’s style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships, but I have taken this, slight, but amusing poem, from one of his earliest collections of poems for children ‘Thawing Frozen Frogs’.

Marys Lamb

MARY HAD A BIT OF LAMB

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

She went into the butcher’s,
Came out with some lamb chops.
I would never follow Mary
Into any kind of shops!

 

Brian Patten (From: ’Thawing Frozen Frogs’ – Puffin Books, 1992; Illustration by David Mostyn)

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Stevie Smith – This Englishwoman

(Poem No.38 of my favourite short poems)

STEVIE SMITH was born Florence Margaret Smith in Kingston-upon-Hull in 1902.   At the age of three she moved with her parents to Palmers Green in North London where she lived until she died in 1971.

She apparently acquired the name “Stevie” as a young woman when she was riding in the park with a friend who said that she reminded him of the jockey Steve Donoghue.

Perhaps her best known poem is ‘Not Waving But Drowning’.   She often accompanied her verses with her own drawings.  One such poem which I particularly like is very short but with an amusingly descriptive illustration  . . .

Stevie Smith-Englishwoman

THIS  ENGLISHWOMAN

This Englishwoman is so refined

She has no bosom and no behind.

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ETHEREE

ETHEREE

Today I am ‘having a go’ at the Etheree poetic form.  It is somewhat similar to the Cinquain and the Rictameter, both of which I have tackled previously.   The Etheree is a ten line form ascending in syllable count for ten unrhymed lines, and it should focus on a single idea or subject.    Thus the syllable count is in the form:  1.2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 
This can be altered to give a Reverse Etheree:  10.9.8.7.6.5.4.3.2.1.

The form is attributed to an American poet, Etheree Taylor Armstrong of Arkansas (1918 – 1994).  Little seems to be known of her life except the poetic form she devised.

Notes adapted from ‘The Poets’ Garret’ et al.  

I have attempted both forms below – on the subjects of ‘Idleness’  and  ‘Life’ …

 Idleness1

IDLENESS – A Reverse Etheree

Today I vow to spend in idleness,
to do no more than listen keenly,
allow the world to speak to me,
while I, in turn, consider
which way my life now  leads,
trying to find peace
within my mind
that will see
my life
through.

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LIFE – A Regular Etheree

Life,
in truth,
defeats me.
Midst storm and stress
I struggle to keep
that equilibrium
which holds me in its stillness,
waiting with some trepidation
for that final push to reach the stars
where my disquietude will cease to be.

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Verses and sketch by:  Roland (WHB)

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MONEY

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Design … WHB – 2017

(Poem No.32 of my favourite short poems)

MONEY

That money talks

I won’t deny.

I heard it once,

It said, “Goodbye”.

By Richard Armour

(Quoted from: ‘The Funny Side – 101 Humorous Poems – edited with an introduction by Wendy Cope.)

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Richard Willard Armour (July 15, 1906 – February 28, 1989) was an American poet and author who wrote more than 65 books.   Two of his best-known quotations are . . .

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long,
has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.

 Beauty is only skin deep, and the world is full of thin skinned people.

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